A Democratic challenger hoping to unseat GOP Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett in the 6th Congressional District race outraised the incumbent 3-to-1 in the final months of last year and has pulled almost even in cash in the bank, campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show.
Democratic State Sen. Rob Garagiola, who was among the first Democrats to enter the race for the competitive House seat, raised $344,061 in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the reports. Bartlett, who is seeking an 11th term, raised $104,140 over the same period.
Maryland's 6th District has long been safe for Republicans, but it was redrawn by Democrats in Annapolis last year as part of the once-in-a-decade redistricting and is now more competitive. In all, 13 candidates — five Democrats and eight Republicans — are running for the seat.
Sean Rankin, Garagiola's campaign manager, said the campaign finished among the top in the nation for Democratic challengers. "And we are aggressively raising money in the first quarter" of 2012, he said.
The reports show Garagiola had $323,126 on hand compared with Bartlett's $342,901.
Garagiola may need more of that money in advance of the April 3 primary if he faces a strong challenge from Democrat John Delaney, a Potomac banker. Delaney's finance report was not available on the FEC's website Tuesday evening — the deadline was not until midnight — but the campaign has said he spent about $118,000 of his own money on the race.
Also, Democrat Milad Pooran, a physician who recently returned from a month-long deployment with the Air Force Reserve, will report raising $68,121 in contributions, according to his campaign. Pooran also lent himself about $40,000, a campaign aide said.
Bartlett's fundraising has picked up steam from last summer, when he pulled in only $1,000. But the Buckeystown lawmaker will still have to raise at a faster clip to be competitive in what is likely to be one of the most expensive races in the country.
Reports for GOP challengers David Brinkley and Kathy Afzali, both state lawmakers, were not immediately available. Reports for remaining candidates either were not available early Tuesday evening or did not indicate significant fundraising.
National political organizations representing House Republicans and Democrats have both called the district a priority.
Bartlett aides initially said the congressman had financial commitments for as much as $160,000. Bob Wickers, a GOP strategist working for Bartlett, said the campaign is continuing to collect on those commitments into the first quarter of this year.
"Our January fundraising pace was very brisk, and it continues to be as we move forward," Wickers said. "We are very comfortable with where we are."
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